The 31 Days to Building a Better Blog Challenge Continues in our New Community
31 Days to a Better Blog Results: What About Growth in Community?

31 Days to a Better Blog Results: Let's Start with Stats

Statistics This week I'm focusing on the results of my 31 Days to Building a Better Blog project. Today I want to start with a look at the hard reality of the numbers.

Google Analytics Stats
One of the tasks in the 31 Day project was to dig more deeply into my site using Google Analytics. I had it installed, but had not had a chance to really look at what this baby could do. Fortunately I used that day's challenge to watch Beth Kanter's screencast on using Analytics, where I learned a trick or two from how Laura Whitehead uses it for her sites.

One piece of functionality I discovered in this process was the ability to compare two different time periods, so naturally it made sense to me to compare how things went in July vs. August. Now one thing about July--my posting was pretty sparse for the first two weeks because of my recovery from surgery, so it may not be the best month in which to make comparisons. I actually went and looked at a two-month comparison and the results were even more striking, so I'm not sure that my lack of posting made a huge difference though. Ultimately I decided I'd stick with a strict one month comparison.

Here's what I found:

  • Visits--Up 59.76%
  • Pageviews--Up 93.6%
  • Pages per Visit--Up 21.18%
  • Bounce Rate--Down 7.59% (remember, bounce rate measures how many visitors leave your site without visiting another page, so a lower bounce rate is good).
  • Average Time on Site--Up 25.4% (9 minutes!)
  • % New Visits--Down 3.32%

A couple of other interesting points:

First, I spent a lot of time refining my "About" page and apparently it was worth the effort--it's the fifth most popular page on my site, with pageviews up 97%. It probably helped that I changed the title of the link, too.

I also took a look at keyword searches to my site. My highest ranking keywords are my name (spelled as both Michele and Michelle Martin) and various iterations of Bamboo Project blog. In fact, these are the top 8 searches, which suggests to me that somehow my name and the name of my blog are out there in the blogosphere, so people are specifically looking for my site. These turn out to be great visitors, too, as their stats for bounce rate, pageviews, etc. are way up over other visitors. Makes me think that it paid off to expend effort in commenting on other people's blogs and trying to be a good citizen of the blogosphere.

Feedburner Stats
Not everyone who reads The Bamboo Project does so by visiting the site. There are also those who use a feed reader, so I looked at my Feedburner stats, too. On August 1, I had 414 subscribers. On August 31, I had 535 subscribers. That's an increase of 121 subscribers or about 29%. Not bad for 31 days of effort.

The Bottom Line
Clearly the numbers tell a pretty rosy story. Just about every stat is up by quite a bit. At first I thought the jump was because of referrals from the other bloggers in the challenge, but when I dug into the numbers on referring sites in Analytics, a lot of the growth in traffic was from click-throughs in feed readers like Google and Netvibes. This suggests that people were moving out of their feed readers to engage with content on the site, which is a big part of what I wanted to have happen from the experiment.

So the stats tell me that I've definitely seen growth in the past 31 days in terms of readership and engagement with information on my blog. The question is, will I be able to maintain that over time?

Up tomorrow--a look at how I developed blogging community, both on and off my blog during the past 31 days. 

Photo via lappartamentornuovo.

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Hi Michele, really good to hear your outcomes from the project. I'm hoping to catch up with the last days that I missed with being away on holiday over the coming days and do some analysis too! Thanks for keeping it all up and inspiring us all to keep motivated!

Hi Michelle:

Thanks for an informative post. I used Avinah Kaushik's blog metrics framework to do an analysis. I found it very useful. There are some metrics that work for blogs and others that do not.

About feedburner stats, one thing I learned that your numbers go up and down because of they way they measure subscribers. Apparently on the weekends, you go down because people turn off their computers and on their computers are their readers which are sending some message to indicate the they are reading via a reader.

Probably still too jetlagged to explain it off the top of my head.

Anyway, I'm working on a workshop on this topic and look forward to your further thoughts. And, Laura -- knows so much about this topic - read her blog!

Thanks, Laura--I'm looking forward to having you back and helping me figure all this stuff out!

And Beth--glad to see that you made it back safely from your Cambodian blogger tour!

Good point on the Feedburner stats. I read about that too and should have mentioned it in the post. I was comparing two weekdays, so it was less of an issue. Thanks for the extra resource, too. Now go get some sleep! :-)

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